September 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
My eldest child is sixteen.
He drives now. He travels all over our city armed with his transport card and a mobile phone. Right now he is living with my mother because she lives closer to his work experience location, and he has arranged his lunches and everything he needs himself. I have been called upon for one thing only: money.
It doesn’t really matter which child is missing, but one less child means things feel quite a bit more relaxed at home. I use these times to catch up on things, and lately my time is also being spent pondering the larger picture of life. Now that my teenager seems ready to step out in the world alone, I can reflect on the journey of parenthood from the very beginning to this point now – where I feel my son will be fully independent in no time at all.
When I left high school and was pondering career choices, I shied away from many things I was interested in – paramedic, morgue worker (yes, they were what I thought I wanted to do despite having no talent for science and top marks for essay writing and history!). I could not imagine myself doing anything entailing massive responsibility, and I remember that feeling as a conscious thought.
I drifted along in my arts degree, and met my husband literally the week after I finished, providing an escape from having to think about a career. We took off travelling. Then I studied kinesiology – again I shied away from becoming professional. I didn’t want the responsibility of expectation that I could help people.
Ironically, I have embraced the greatest responsibility of all: childrearing. With five children, I have accepted into my life a massive load. When my children were babies and toddlers, it was hard to imagine the worry about teenagers that now keeps me awake into the night. And this is only the first child – there are four more to go!
My son wants a cat. And this extra responsibility, I already know, is too much for me. We always had cats and dogs when I was growing up. It was normal for me. I remember when I was a teenager, left at home for a week whilst my mother went to a spiritual retreat. I came home one night with my older sister to find my beloved ginger cat sitting in the hallway with a puffy, injured eye. That sight was a shock to me, but what was worse is that I was responsible for the cat, and I had no money to take him to the vet. My sister stepped in to save the day but that experience has stayed with me, and not in a good way.
Now we have guinea pigs and our children love them, and they seem just the right amount of work for us to manage. But a cat as well….I would almost rather have another baby than get a cat! The responsibility involved overwhelms me. I wonder about this theme in my life – maybe responsibility is one my major life lessons to come to terms with.
Last night, I held one of our guinea pigs in my arms as he passed away. I sobbed and sobbed over this little animal.
Later, in bed, I asked the angels to help me be strong enough for the responsibilities in my life. I have a deep determination to always be there for my children, but some days things can feel very overwhelming.